Kenny Leon’s True Colors to open 2015-16 season with Cassius Clay play

Atlantan Kenny Leon will direct a live-TV production of “The Wiz” in December for NBC, and take the show to Broadway for the 2016-17 season. JOHN LAMPARSKI / GETTY IMAGES

Atlanta director Kenny Leon, while busy directing for Broadway and TV, has announced the 2015-16 season of his True Colors Theatre Company.  JOHN LAMPARSKI / GETTY IMAGES

With his name attached to three stage and filming projects that grabbed national headlines in recent weeks alone, director Kenny Leon might be excused for not being fully engaged in the business of his Atlanta-based True Colors Theatre Company.

But as the local troupe announces its three-play 2015-16 season, it’s clear that the ever-juggling Leon is very hands-on.

“Oh yes, I am very excited to continue the dialogue with our diverse audience with these three amazing plays,” Leon said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The season launches in October with the Atlanta premiere of Will Power’s “Fetch Clay, Make Man,” a dramatic telling of the budding friendship between rising boxing star Cassius Clay and fading actor Stepin Fetchit, who remains controversial 30 years after his death for his stereotype-embracing depictions of lazy black men.

Also on the True Colors playbill: David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” opening in February 2016, and the latest from “Stick Fly” playwright Lydia Diamond, “Smart People,” due in July 2016.

Leon seems especially jazzed about “Fetch Clay, Make Man,” to be directed by Jasmine Guy.

“I first saw a production of it last year in New York — just a play that explodes off the page,” he said. “We fought very hard to be one of the first companies to produce this play outside of N.Y.”

Leon himself will direct “Smart People,” which probes, through a quartet of Harvard-connected characters, whether prejudice is hard-wired into our brains. Diamond “explores race and class in a most exciting and humorous way,” he said.

At the moment, Leon is “working hard” with the creative team for a revival of the 1970s hit musical “The Wiz,” which will be broadcast live on NBC before a planned 2016 Broadway run that he also will helm.

As time allows, he’s also collaborating with Tavis Smiley on developing a stage adaptation of the TV and radio host’s new memoir about about his friendship with writer Maya Angelou, “My Journey With Maya.”

Finally, Leon said recent unconfirmed reports that he would direct a remake of the 1999 romantic comedy “She’s All That” are true. He said he’s committed to the project — to be produced by Tonya Lewis Lee (Spike Lee’s wife), with whom he collaborated on Hallmark Channel’s “The Watsons Go to Birmingham” — but that it’s “in the very early stages.”

TRUE COLORS’ 2015-16 SEASON

  • Oct. 27-Nov. 22: “Fetch Clay, Make Man”
  • Feb. 9-March 6, 2016: “American Buffalo”
  • July 12-Aug. 7, 2016: “Smart People”

Performances are at Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road, Atlanta. Subscriptions available via Ticket Alternative (1-877-725-8849, www.ticketalternative.com) or www.truecolorstheatre.org. Individual tickets on sale July 1.

 


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